Eurovision Song Contest: Top Controversial Moments in History

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Monday, July 16, 2018
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You can croon about unrequited love, dance with unbridled passion or dress up in drag. Just keep politics out of it. Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest say the annual kitsch-fest, which is watched by almost 200 million people in dozens of countries, is about having a good time, not making political statements. Yet it didn't take long for someone to break the no-politics rule at the 2016 competition in Stockholm. On May 10, 2016 First Semi-Final, Armenian singer Iveta Mukuchyan waved the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region that is officially part of Azerbaijan but currently under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces. "I just want peace on our borders," Mukuchyan said at a news conference after the show.

 

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What an evening  for Eurovision 2016! 26 terrific acts sang their hearts out on stage, competing for the ultimate prize; the title of winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. However, in the end there could be just one winner and that was Jamala from Ukraine who took victory with 534 points. In second place was the favourite of the juries Australia with 511 points, Dami Im's Sound Of Silence, and Russia came third with 491 points, You Are The Only One sung by Sergey Lazarev. The new voting system brought one of the most thrilling finishes to the contest, as Australia had stormed into the lead with the jury votes, but the public televoting overturned that and edged Ukraine into a 23 point lead, and not even the televoting favorite Russia could overtake either of them. This year, Russia really wanted the top honor, so much so that they were willing to downplay the awful attitude its government has taken against its queer citizens. What they didn't expect, though, was their prized slab-of-beef entrant, Sergey Lazarev, to make the impression he did. Lazarev, who was a favorite to win (he did not ultimately win), told the BBC leading up to the competition, "Gay life exists in Russia," adding, "There is more talk and rumors about problems than exist. I just want you to come and see everything yourself. Oh, like that "rumor" that made it illegal to tell kids being gay is OK?

 

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Sergey Lazarev Adult Film Photo - Russia Eurovision 2016 Contestant

 

 

The Russian propaganda machine wound up blowing up in the Kremlin's face after a revealing photo Lazarev made the rounds!  The photo has been described as part of a kinky adult film shoot from Lazarev's past — one that the Russian government paid to try and have wiped from the internet. And we all know how well wiping things off the internet always goes. Once the cat was out of the bag, the Kremlin tried another approach to downplay the damage, saying the image was intended to provoke thoughtful dialogue about domestic abuse. That's almost as creative as Lazarev's performance in the competition, here below.

 

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Click Here to See: Eurovision Song Contest 2018 - Lisbon, Portugal

 

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest running television shows in the world. A European tradition was born in Monaco, back in 1955 with the first Contest taking place in Lugano, Switzerland, at the Teatro Kursaal, on May 24th, 1956. 60+ years later Europe's favorite TV show has been featuring thousands of songs and creating stars strongly embedded into Europe's music culture. From bulletproof vests to Lady-Beards Eaurovision had its fair share of controversy over its 60-year history.  Following ar esome examples:

2013 - Finland On-Stage Same Sex Kiss 

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On-Stage Kiss to Fight Gay Marriage Ban

 

Krista Siegfrids representing Finland in 2013, kissed one of her female back-up dancers on stage in a protest against Finland's ban on gay marriage.  Take a look back at some of the international song contest's most memorable moments.

 

1963 - Voting Scandal Over Competition Between Danes, Swiss

 

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When it came time to announce votes at the end of the contest, the Norwegian jury announced theirs out of order and UK presenter Katie Boyle said the country's votes would have to be collected later. Norway allegedly altered its votes and its neighbouring country Denmark won, whereas Switzerland would have won if the original votes had been used.

 

1973 - Israel's Ilanit Gets Protection After Munich's 1972 

 Olympic Massacre of Israeli Athlets

 

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Following the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian militants at the Munich Olympics in September 1972, Israel's participant Ilanit performed while wearing a bulletproof vest.  British commentator Terry Wogan asked the audience to remain seated while applauding, otherwise they could have faced being shot by security.

 

Ilanit Performs Wearing a Bulletproof Vest at Eurovision 1973

 

1978 - Jordan Snubs Israel's Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta

 

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Jordanian television refused to broadcast Israeli entry Abanibi, by Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta, and showed pictures of flowers instead.  When Israel won that year Jordanian media announced that Belgium had won.

 

1986 - Youngest Competitor Ever Wins Title at Thirteen

 

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Belgian 13-year-old Sandra Kim entered the competition and won, making her Eurovision's youngest competitor (and winner) ever. Today, all entrants have to be over 16.

 

1998 - Transgender Competitor Gets Dead Threats

 

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Israel's Transgender Dana International - Eurovision 1998 "Diva"

 

Transgender woman Dana International represented Israel at Eurovision, prompting some Orthodox Jews to take to the streets in protest. They claimed she was an abomination and some threatened to kill her. Dana returned to Eurovision in 2011, but did not make it past the semi-finals. She was the first former Eurovision winner not to make it to the final in a subsequent contest.

 

2000 - Ping Pong Disowned After Calls for Peace

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Ping Pong wave Syrian, Israeli flags at Eurovision

 

Israel's entrants Ping Pong finished their song by unfurling Syrian and Israeli flags and calling for peace. The entry was disowned by Israel and it later turned out two of the members of the group were journalists.

 

2003 - Belgium Enters Song in 'Gobbledegook' Language

 

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Eurovision liberalized restrictions on permitted languages, prompting Belgium's Urban Trad to enter a song called Sanomi, which had lyrics from a made-up language.

 

 

2009 - Georgia Withdrawn for Being 'Too Political'

 

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Performers from Georgia, which was at war with Russia a year before, entered a song called "We Don't Wanna Put In."  The European Broadcasting Union classified it as "too political" and Georgia was asked to change the lyrics of the song or enter another song. Georgia refused to do so and withdrew from the contest.

 

2014 - Austria's Bearded Lady Wins Competition

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Austrian performer Conchita Wurst – a drag queen sporting high heels, butterfly lashes and a full beard – became known for her unique persona and impressive vibrato when she took out the contest with her performance of "Rise Like a Phoenix". Wurst's victory prompted an outpouring of anti-gay anger from Russian politicians and stars with deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeting that the result "showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl".

 

Conchita Wurst Performs Rise Like a Phoenix

 

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Conchita Wurst - 2018 Look

 

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Ira Losco celebrates Malta as number 1 in Europe for LGBTI equality

 

Ira Losco won the 2016 Maltese national selection and earned the right to represent the island nation at this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Since winning the competition in January she has worked with PBS to decide which song would go forward to the contest, and the result of these discussions was that Walk On Water would be the song she will perform in Stockholm. Ira Losco will be celebrating Malta being named number one in Europe for LGBTI equality this evening and is inviting Eurovision fans to join her. Ira will be armed with a selfie stick to see how many people she can get in the picture, in the true spirit of this year's theme, Come Together. Malta zoomed up to the number one spot after bringing in civil unions, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and introducing one of the most progressive transgender laws in the world, where identity doesn't depend on a doctor's certification. The country is bringing in a law to ban gay conversion therapy and both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader have committed themselves to marriage equality.

 

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Equality: Ira Losco, has long been an advocate of LGBTI rights and said, "If I win I will be thrilled, of course, but Eurovision fans will be winners too, because they would be able to look forward to a brilliant contest next year in a country that is genuine about LGBTI equality. Malta would be turned into a Eurovision sunshine island." Malta is already making preparations to host Junior Eurovision for a second time in November 2016.

 

 

 

While Swedish pop group ABBA are arguably the most famous act to come from the pan-European competition, a Canadian superstar also made her name at the event. It was 30 years ago this month that Céline Dion won the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland in Dublin. She has since become one of the world's top selling artists of all time. The voting was so tight back in 1988 that presenter Pat Kenny joked after the second last vote from Portugal: "I have to tell you that we employed Agatha Christie to write the script for tonight!".  Ryan O'Shaughnessy will take to the stage for the 2018 Final with a gay themed romantic ballad called 'Together'.  

 

 Ireland 2018 Eurovision Finalist Performed Gay Themed Song "Together"

 

Chinese broadcaster Mango TV had censored the Irish performance because the staging depicted a same-sex relationship - and now the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has ended its contract with them for that reason. The EBU said on Friday it had terminated its partnership with Mango TV because the censorship was not in line with its "values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music".